You will be warmly greeted by the crew and expedition staff as you embark Plancius in the afternoon. Sailing down the Beagle Channel, we will settle into shipboard life and enjoy our first meal on board.
During these two days, we will sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we will arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area we may see Wandering Albatrosses, Grey Headed Albatrosses, Black-browed Albatrosses, Light- mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Cape Pigeons, Southern Fulmars, Wilson's Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels. Near the South Shetland Islands, we will glimpse at the first icebergs.
We will sail directly to "High Antarctica", passing the Melchior islands and the Schollaert Channel between Brabant and Anvers Island. The Antarctic Peninsula is famed for its icy beauty and bountiful wildlife. During the days here, we will optimize the experience to get the best of everything. Sites that may be visited include: Cuverville Island, a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Rong Island where we will find a large colony of Gentoo penguins and breeding pairs of Brown skuas. On nearby Danco Island in the Errera Channel, activities may be focused around the Gentoo penguins nesting high on the island as well as Weddell and Crabeater seals that may be on and around the island. In Neko Harbour, we may have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glaciers calving at sea level. Zodiac cruising and kayaking offers a spectacular ways of enjoying the landscape surrounded by ice incrusted alpine peaks. In Paradise Bay with its myriad icebergs, we may have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent. Again, we may offer an opportunity for a zodiac cruise in the inner parts of this amazing waterway. In this area, we have good chances to see Humpback whales and Minke whales. After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, we hope to get a chance to visit the old British research station, now living museum and post office at Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. Close to Port Lockroy, we may also offer activities on Jougla Point with Gentoo penguins and Blue-eyed shags. This area offers excellent opportunities for kayaking and camping. When the snow conditions allow we use snowshs on shore, which vastly improves mobility and safety in the expected heavy snow conditions.
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna, such as Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins and Southern Giant Petrels. In Deception Island our ship braves through the spectacular Neptune's Bellows and into the flooded caldera. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape petrels and many Kelp gulls, Brown and South polar skuas and Antarctic terns. Wilson's storm petrels and Black-bellied storm petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. Alternatively, we may try to conduct activities near Half Moon Island. Here we find Chinstrap Penguins and Weddell Seals often haul out on the beach near the Argentinean station Camara. Around noon we depart for the Drake Passage.
In the Drake Passage, we will have again a chance of seeing many seabirds, and to take advantage of the knowledge of our lecture team.
During the early morning we will cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia. It is a busy time, with people saying farewell to our crew and others who have shared the intensity of being in a magnificent white wilderness. We will head off in our different directions, hopefully with a new found sense of the power of natural forces.